Parish Feast of Blessed James Bell

HAPPY FEAST DAY!

Our new Parish of Blessed James Bell came into being eighteen months ago on 1 May 2018, and was formally inaugurated by the Archbishop during Mass at St Benedict’s on 26 October 2018.

The Parish of Blessed James Bell incorporates three Churches (St Benedict’s, St Oswald’s & St Mary’s Shrine), two Catholic Primary Schools (St Benedict’s & St Oswald’s), two Parish Centres (St Benedict’s & St Oswald’s) and one Parish Office (based at St Benedict’s).

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Stained glass window of Blessed James Bell in St Mary’s Shrine, Warrington

James Bell was born in Warrington in 1524.  He was educated at Oxford University where he was ordained to the priesthood.  At first, he served as a minister of the Church of England but, after being reconciled to the Catholic Church in 1581, he served as a missionary priest among the poorer Catholics of Lancashire.  He was arrested at Golborne in January 1584 and brought to trial at the Lent Assizes in Lancaster.

Fr James Bell was hanged and quartered at Lancaster Castle on 20 April 1584 alongside the layman, John Finch, who had also reconciled to the Catholic Church.  Fr Bell was among the 108 martyrs beatified by Pope Pius XI on 15 December 1929.

Blessed James Bell is commemorated on the Martyrs’ Plaque in Lancaster Cathedral; in a stained-glass window in St Mary’s Shrine, Warrington; and there is a statue of him in the Lady Chapel of St Werburgh’s Church, Birkenhead.  Until its demolition in the early 1990s, St Benedict’s Church had a building named after him called the ‘Bell Hall’.

Prayer of Rededication

This was the prayer we prayed with the Archbishop when our three parishes merged together last year:

God our Father,
we, your pilgrim people,
gather in your presence and ask your blessing
as we seek to serve you and your people.

Under the patronage of Blessed James Bell,
and in communion with the whole Church,
form us into a community,
built on the fidelity of those who have gone before us.

May we take to heart the last words of the Lord Jesus
and go into the world
to proclaim the Good News to the whole of creation.

Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit,
may your Word take root in our hearts inspiring us
to gather and give thanks in the eucharist,
to serve you in our love for one another, 
and to reach out in welcome to all people,
especially those most in need.

United with other Christian communities in this area,
may our parish be a source of grace and blessing
for the local community,
and so help to build your kingdom of justice, love and peace.

Grant this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

 

SYNOD 2020

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Between now and 17 November, we are invited to reflect on the first Synod Theme:  All called and gifted by God.   There are a number of ways we can do this:

1)  There will be a Meeting for all the Parishes in Warrington Pastoral Area on Tuesday 11 November, either at 1.00 pm in St Benedict’s Church or at 7.00 pm in St Oswald’s Parish Centre.

2)  There is a Prayer Station in church which will help you to reflect on the theme and suggest proposals for action.

3)  There will be an Evening of Prayer & Reflection, 7.30 – 9.00 pm, on Tuesday 29 October at St Joseph’s, Crow Orchard Road, Wrightington WN6 9PA and on Wednesday 6 November at St Philomena’s, Sparrow Hall Road, Liverpool L9 6BU.

4)  You can visit the Synod Themes and submit a proposal online at:  www.synod2020.co.uk


29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

Gospel  (Luke 18: 1-8)

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart. ‘There was a judge in a certain town’ he said ‘who had neither fear of God nor respect for man. In the same town there was a widow who kept on coming to him and saying, “I want justice from you against my enemy!” For a long time he refused, but at last he said to himself, “Maybe I have neither fear of God nor respect for man, but since she keeps pestering me I must give this widow her just rights, or she will persist in coming and worry me to death.”’

And the Lord said ‘You notice what the unjust judge has to say? Now will not God see justice done to his chosen who cry to him day and night even when he delays to help them? I promise you, he will see justice done to them, and done speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?’

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Meditation

As I come to pray, I take time to relax into God’s presence, grateful that I have this time to spend with the Lord…

I become aware of my feelings as I settle to pray.   Do I feel relaxed and content, or am I feeling discouraged, saddened or anxious?…

Knowing that the Lord accepts me as I am, I accept his invitation to meet him in prayer and not lose heart.

I carefully read the Gospel, slowly…

I ponder the parable.  How do I respond to the widow’s situation?   She is poor, powerless but persistent.  How is this reflected in my life, my prayer, my action for justice for others? I speak to the Lord of this…

I consider Jesus’s spirit of justice, his attitude to the poor and oppressed. I think of others who have inspired – or inspire me now – to respond to injustice, to be persistent when I see no results.   Perhaps I ask for such graces and especially not to lose heart.

In response to Jesus’s last question, I may pray for faithfulness for myself, my community and the wider world.

(Adapted from Prego, St Beuno’s Outreach, Diocese of Wrexham)

SYNOD 2020

synod-themes

Last Sunday, the four Synod Themes that have emerged from the many listening sessions were announced.  These themes will be the focus of the next stage of our Synod Journey.  The four Synod Themes are:

  • All called and gifted by God
  • Sharing the mission of Jesus
  • How we pray together
  • Building community, nurturing belonging

The next task is to generate proposals for action within each theme.  These proposals will be taken forward to be voted on at the Synod Day in October 2020.

The themes will be considered one-by-one with each having their own specific period of reflection:

  • 20 October – 17 November 2019:  All called and gifted by God
  • 17 November – 15 December 2019:  Sharing the mission of Jesus
  • 19 January – 16 February 2020:  How we pray together
  • 16 February – 15 March 2020:  Building community, nurturing belonging

Alongside the local discernment, there will also be an opportunity for people to submit a proposal via the Synod website.

In Warrington, we will explore the themes as a Pastoral Area.  We will explore the first theme – All called and gifted by God – on Tuesday 11 November, either at 1.00 pm in St Benedict’s Church or at 7.00 pm in St Oswald’s Parish Centre.

EXTRAORDINARY MONTH OF MISSION

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Pope Francis asks us to pray with him at midday every Friday in October, the following prayer:

God our Father,
when your Son Jesus Christ rose from the dead,
he commissioned his followers
to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’.

Through our Baptism you send us out
to continue this mission among all peoples.

Empower us by the gifts of the Holy Spirit
to be courageous and enthusiastic
in bearing witness to the Gospel,
so that the mission entrusted to us,
which is still far from completion,
may bring life and light to the world.

May all peoples experience the saving love
and generous mercy of Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
Amen.


28th Sunday in Ordinary time (C)

Gospel  (Luke 17: 11-19)

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus travelled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered one of the villages, ten lepers came to meet him. They stood some way off and called to him, ‘Jesus! Master! Take pity on us.’ When he saw them he said, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ Now as they were going away they were cleansed. Finding himself cured, one of them turned back praising God at the top of his voice and threw himself at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. The man was a Samaritan. This made Jesus say, ‘Were not all ten made clean? The other nine, where are they? It seems that no one has come back to give praise to God, except this foreigner.’ And he said to the man, ‘Stand up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you.’

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Pastoral Letter from the Archbishop

My dear friends in Jesus Christ,

The words “thank you” are central to everything we do at Mass today. The Mass, the Eucharist, is our great prayer of thanksgiving and praise to God. In this way when we gather for Mass we are a people formed by thanksgiving.

The Gospel today is an example of thanks unexpectedly given. The Samaritan, who was one of the ten cured, returns and says thank you; he is the only one.

I want to say thank you today to all those who have taken part in our Synod listening. It is remarkable that over 20,000 people have been part of this journey so far. This is encouraging and fills me with hope as does every act of thanksgiving.

But today I also want to say thank you to God for the gift of a new saint. On Sunday 13 October, Pope Francis will declare John Henry Newman a saint of the Church. That means we can all learn from his example, from his holiness, from his teaching, writing and praying. We can ask Saint John Henry Newman to intercede for us with God.

He was associated with Blessed Dominic Barberi whose mortal remains were laid to rest at Sutton Monastery, within our Archdiocese. He became intellectually convinced of the truth of Catholicism but yearned to meet a person imbued with the holiness it promised. He found this in Blessed Dominic who received his declaration of faith and prayed with him at the time of his conversion. Newman was a man of the Spirit who yearned to encounter true sanctity, he discerned this holiness in Blessed Dominic and discerned the presence of the Holy Spirit in his own life and the life of others. He said: ‘Heart speaks unto heart’.

God has given each of us a calling, to use John Henry Newman’s words “an invitation to a definite service”. The Synod invites us to use the gifts that God has given to us to be truly missionary disciples for and in the world today. We must use our gifts in growing and strengthening our parish communities and taking our Faith out to the wider community in service of all, particularly the marginalised and the poor just as John Henry Newman did. In one of his many writings our new saint wrote: ‘I sought to hear the voice of God and I climbed the topmost steeple, but God declared: “Go down again – I dwell among the people.”’

This is something that Pope Francis is very aware of as he encourages us to be the Church that listens. Over these last months we have listened together. We have journeyed along the road towards our Synod. I would encourage you to have a look at the report from the listening that can be accessed through our Synod website. Even a quick glance will give you an idea of the riches that have been shared by so many who have participated. As you read through you may notice some ideas that you think might make good proposals to be considered at the Synod itself next October. You may also notice some ideas that lie outside of what can be considered at a diocesan Synod.

From all the listening that has taken place 4 themes have emerged.  These are:

  • All called and gifted by God

In this Synod Theme we reflect on the vocation that God gives to each of us.

  • Sharing the mission of Jesus

Here we reflect on how we are sent out into the world to proclaim the Good News to the whole of creation.

  • How we pray together

In our third theme we reflect on the place of prayer and worship in our life as Church.

  • Building community, nurturing belonging

In our final Synod Theme, we reflect on what it means to be a Church of welcome and discipleship.

Please take the Synod Sunday leaflet with you today and be ready to play your part in shaping proposals.

We do all this led by the kindly light of God’s love. Those words are part of St John Henry Newman’s great hymn – Lead kindly light. In the midst of what can sometimes seem to be dark times we are confident of that light. Our Synod listening has shone a light, a bright light which with God’s help will lead us on the path we should choose. It will not always be an easy path – but we walk it together, on the road – becoming the Church God is calling us to be.

St John Henry Newman lived during a period of tremendous changes: social, cultural, technological, intellectual and spiritual. He tried to assimilate all this into his traditional Christian life of faith. He said: ‘To live is to change and to be perfect is to have changed often’.

With courage and great faith and with thanksgiving in our hearts we commit the next steps in our Synod to his intercession as we journey together to become the Church God is calling us to be.

St John Henry Newman, pray for us.

I wish you and your families every blessing in the months ahead.

+ Malcom McMahon, OP

Archbishop of Liverpool

EXTRAORDINARY MONTH OF MISSION

oct2019-en

Pope Francis asks us to pray with him at midday every Friday in October, the following prayer:

God our Father,
when your Son Jesus Christ rose from the dead,
he commissioned his followers
to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’.

Through our Baptism you send us out
to continue this mission among all peoples.

Empower us by the gifts of the Holy Spirit
to be courageous and enthusiastic
in bearing witness to the Gospel,
so that the mission entrusted to us,
which is still far from completion,
may bring life and light to the world.

May all peoples experience the saving love
and generous mercy of Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
Amen.


27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

Gospel  (Luke 17: 5-10)

The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’ The Lord replied, ‘Were your faith the size of a mustard seed you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it would obey you.

‘Which of you, with a servant ploughing or minding sheep, would say to him when he returned from the fields, “Come and have your meal immediately”? Would he not be more likely to say, “Get my supper laid; make yourself tidy and wait on me while I eat and drink. You can eat and drink yourself afterwards”? Must he be grateful to the servant for doing what he was told? So with you: when you have done all you have been told to do, say, “We are merely servants: we have done no more than our duty.”’

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Thought

Following Jesus is not always easy.  We are tempted to say things and do things that are not Christian.  In difficult situations, we can find it hard to trust our Lord.  The apostles experienced the same.  They were living with Jesus, watching him, learning from him, and then they would find themselves reacting to a situation in a very different way to their Master.  There were times when they just couldn’t understand what Jesus was saying or why he responded to various situations in the way that he did.  It’s no wonder they said to him:  “Increase our faith”.

Following Jesus is something we have to learn.  It doesn’t necessarily come naturally to us.  As we learn, we have to allow ourselves to ‘mess up’ at times.  This is part of learning and our Lord understands this.  It’s at these times we need to allow our Lord to be merciful to us.  In that experience of mercy and acceptance, we learn to be merciful and patient with ourselves and others.

It seems to me the apostles request in today’s Gospel is a prayer, and a good prayer for us to pray:  Lord, increase our faith.

Fr Dave

becoming

Synod Talk

“The Quiet Revolution of Pope Francis: A Synodal Catholic Church”

Former Irish Provincial, Fr Gerry O’Hanlon SJ, will examine Pope’s Francis’ focus on a renewed Church with a missionary focus and how this can be translated on the ground in parishes.  He will review the opportunities, barriers and fruits of being a more Synodal Church and how this demands a change of role for bishops, the ordained and all the baptised in the world today.

The talk marks the twelve-month countdown to Synod 2020 and is a key to the whole synodal process that the Archdiocese has embarked upon.  Monday 7 October in Liverpool Hope University Chapel L16 8ND.  Tea and coffee from 7.00 pm, talk at 7.30 pm concluding at 8.45 pm.  Optional Night Prayer at 9.00 pm.  All are welcome!

Next Steps

At the end of September, all the Synod Members gathered at ‘The Edge’ in Wigan to receive the report from the listening stage of our Synod journey, and to hear the announcement of the four themes that have emerged from all the listening that has taken place from February to July.

Over 20,000 people took part in the listening – in parishes, schools, online and in focus groups.  All this information was read and sent to Hope University and, under the guidance of Father Peter McGrail, was presented to the Synod working party in August.  You can read the full report (130 pages) on the Synod website:  www.synod2020.co.uk (under ‘News’).  During a three-day retreat, the Working Party prayed, read, shared, discerned and eventually four themes emerged.

These four themes will give us all the opportunity to listen some more, to reflect, and eventually to make proposals for action to the Synod, which will be voted on and which will guide the Archbishop in writing a Pastoral Plan for the Archdiocese.

The four themes are:

  • All called and gifted by God
  • Sharing the mission of Jesus
  • How we pray together
  • Building community, nurturing belonging

Synod Sunday 2019

Next Sunday, 13 October, has been designated as the 2nd Synod Sunday.  This is also the day on which Pope Francis will declare Blessed John Henry Newman a saint of the Church.  This seems hardly a co-incidence.  Cardinal Newman was a great scholar but also a great pastor.  He brought his many and varied gifts to the service of the Church in this country.  First to the Church of England, and then to the Roman Catholic Church.

Father Andrew Unsworth wrote this about Cardinal Newman: ‘He is often portrayed as a great defender of the role of conscience in the Christian life and so he was, especially as conscience guides conduct.  However, conscience must also be understood in the context of Christian obedience to the teachings of Revelation and the interpretations and judgements of the Church’s Magisterium.  Cardinal Newman is often quoted as saying in connection with the need to consult the people of God: “I sought to hear the voice of God and climbed the topmost steeple, but God declared: “Go down again – I dwell among the people.”’

It seems right and fitting that this next part of our Synod journey, which will involve more listening and discerning, should be under the intercession of the soon to be Saint John Henry Newman.

EXTRAORDINARY MONTH OF MISSION

oct2019-en

Pope Francis asks us to pray with him at midday every Friday in October, the following prayer:

God our Father,
when your Son Jesus Christ rose from the dead,
he commissioned his followers
to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’.

Through our Baptism you send us out
to continue this mission among all peoples.

Empower us by the gifts of the Holy Spirit
to be courageous and enthusiastic
in bearing witness to the Gospel,
so that the mission entrusted to us,
which is still far from completion,
may bring life and light to the world.

May all peoples experience the saving love
and generous mercy of Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
Amen.